DANBURY, Conn. — The Democrats in Danbury are preparing for fall. On Tuesday evening at Democratic Town Committee offices, longtime Danbury resident Al Almeida announced his candidacy for mayor.
Flanked by state and local officials, including state Rep. Bob Godfrey, state Rep. David Arconti, city Councilman Tom Saadi, and former Mayor Gene Eriquez, Almeida said the city needs new leadership with a new vision.
"As a taxpayer, I have not seen a good return on my investment," Almeida said, adding, that it's time for him to be the "leader of the greatest city in Connecticut."
Saying Danbury should elect an innovative leader with a better vision for the city, Almeida criticized Mayor Mark Boughton for neglecting the city while twice pursuing the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Danbury has many needs, Almeida said, including government accessibility, police protection, education, downtown rejuvenation, redevelopment for Main Street and beyond, and an in-depth traffic plan.
"We need City Hall open to the public on Fridays," he added to applause.
Almeida, 57, is an investigator in the public defender's office for the Danbury Judicial District. At age 11, he immigrated to Danbury from Portugal and has lived in the city for more than 45 years.
He graduated from Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury, then earned a bachelor's degree in justice and law administration from Western Connecticut State University. Almeida later earned a master's degree from the University of Connecticut in homeland security leadership.
For the past 38 years, Almeida has served in the U.S. Army and in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he currently holds the rank of command sergeant major. He has served two tours of duty in Iraq in support of the Global War on Terror.
He oversees the 99th Regional Support Command, directing nearly 3,000 civilians and service members in the 13-state Northeast Region, and oversees the region's $210 million budget.
Godfrey praised Almeida as a "man of the highest character," saying he represents working families and family values. Saying that he hadn't visited City Hall in many years, Godfrey called for improved lines of communication.
"It's time for more cooperation between city leaders like Al Almeida and state leaders," Godfrey said.
Godfrey also said he was proud to be the first elected official to endorse Almeida's mayoral bid.
Arconti said Almeida, his next-door neighbor, is a "born leader" he was proud to support, while Saadi, also a veteran, lauded Almeida's military service.
"He stands up for veterans and service members, and he will use his leadership skills for all Danbury residents," Saadi said.
Boughton, a Republican, plans to run for re-election to his ninth term this fall. He has also formed a committee to run for statewide office in 2018.